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Hourihane on target as Villa expose Fulham’s frailties


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Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish scored his first Premier League goal of the season in a 3-0 win over Fulham (Will Oliver/PA)

Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish scored his first Premier League goal of the season in a 3-0 win over Fulham (Will Oliver/PA)

Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish scored his first Premier League goal of the season in a 3-0 win over Fulham (Will Oliver/PA)

Aston Villa extended their winning start to the season to four successive matches in all competitions after a convincing 3-0 victory at Fulham.

Jack Grealish struck his first Premier League goal of the season to give his side a fourth-minute lead, before Conor Hourihane followed it up just over 10 minutes later.

Fulham’s defensive issues were on full show as Tyrone Mings struck just after half-time to seal the three points, before the Cottagers had a Bobby Decordova-Reid goal ruled out by VAR.

Villa were clinical in their finishing in front of goal, while Fulham struggled to trouble goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

Cottagers boss Scott Parker had spoken before the game about his desire to improve the defence, and Fulham’s frailties were soon on show again.

The hosts were punished almost immediately after failing to convincingly clear the ball from the back.

John McGinn sent in a well-weighted cross to Grealish who made no mistakes in front of goal, slotting the ball past Alphonse Areola.

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Conor Hourihane, left, celebrates his goal (Will Oliver/PA)

Conor Hourihane, left, celebrates his goal (Will Oliver/PA)

PA

Conor Hourihane, left, celebrates his goal (Will Oliver/PA)

Fulham’s challenge was then made more difficult, when Hourihane struck his first goal of the calendar year to double his side’s lead in the 15th minute from another McGinn assist.

Grealish starred in the centre of midfield, creating numerous chances for the visitors, while Parker’s side struggled to establish themselves on the game.

Last season’s Championship top-goalscorer Aleksandar Mitrovic often cut a lone figure in the box, with the Villa defence matching every cross which came in looking for the Serbian forward.

Villa all-but wrapped up the three points at the start of the second half, as an unmarked Mings put the ball past Areola from a Hourihane free-kick.

Fulham looked to have pulled one back when Decordova-Reid had the ball in the back of the net, but the goal was reviewed to VAR for a possible foul in the build-up.

Following a lengthy review, and after consulting the pitchside monitor, referee Stuart Attwell disallowed the goal for a foul by Mitrovic on Ezri Konsa in the box.

The hosts were limited to long-range efforts as the game drew to a close, with Villa able to hold off the challenge to secure a clean sheet.

Press Association